Rep. Mia Love's campaign admits to improperly raising primary election funds
Rep. Mia Love's campaign has informed the Federal Election Commission that it will refund or redesignate less than half of what the government says was more than a million dollars improperly raised for a primary that was never expected to happen, according to documents reviewed by CNN. The commission sent Love a letter in August saying the Utah Republican's campaign had violated federal guidelines about money for primaries. In Utah, candidates are not allowed to raise such funds if they have no primary, according to the FEC and experts specializing in election law. On Friday, Love's campaign responded to regulators, telling the FEC they would refund or redesignate some, but not all, of that money.
In April, Love secured the nomination to seek a third term for her seat in Utah's 4th congressional district at Utah's nominating convention. In Utah, if a candidate receives such a nomination at a convention, like Love did, then no primary is held. At no point prior to April's convention did Love face a primary challenger or the threat of one. But Love raised $1,153,624 and designated that money for a primary, according to the letter from the FEC to Love. Even after Love secured the nomination at the convention, she raised an additional $372,468 specifically designated for the primary that her campaign knew would not take place.
"It seems clear that any contribution designated for the primary election received after the convention would have to be refunded or redesignated," said Brendan Fischer, the director of federal reform at the Campaign Legal Center, an organization that supports campaign finance reform. "I think there is an argument that, Mia Love knew earlier than the convention that it would be an uncontested primary, but their letter suggests there may have been some ambiguity. So they might be able to get away with it but it's certainly problematic because of this sort of quirk in Utah law that allows a candidate to raise money above and beyond the federal limits that would apply in elections in almost any other state."
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